Want to know the best time to teach your child to learn a second language? (Hint, hint, it’s not in Freshman Spanish!) The best time to teach children a second language is while they are learning their first!
Did you know…
-There are roughly 6,500 spoken languages around the world, with English being the most used and Chinese coming in at second?
-Being bilingual from an early age significantly alters the brain’s structure?
-Starting a language at a young age can enhance literacy development in the first language?
-Bilingualism promotes all areas of cognitive functioning?
How to start teaching your tot another language in tandem with their first, you may ask? We pulled some tips of the trade from a parents.com article titled “Bilingual Babes: Teach Your Child A Second Language.”
“Start now. Two- and 3-year-olds are not only increasing their vocabularies, they’re starting to recognize the speech patterns they’ve been hearing since birth. The earlier you introduce a second language, the easier it will be for your child to pick up its unique sounds.
Create a casual learning environment. Choose a language that is spoken in your neighborhood, on a television show your child can watch regularly, or one that is offered in classes or playgroups in your area. “If you have a bilingual babysitter, encourage her to speak her native language to your child exclusively,” says Nancy Rhodes, director of foreign-language education at the Center for Applied Linguistics.
Teach a word at a time. If you don’t want to do formal lessons, you can introduce bilingual basics by pointing out to your child that objects can have two names — one in each language.
Have reasonable expectations. Of course, a child won’t learn to speak another language fluently from hearing words, watching videos, or singing songs. But simply being exposed to a language will help her understand phrases when she hears them. So even though you probably won’t be having a French conversation with your child very soon, if you say “bonne nuit” every night at bedtime, she’ll figure out what you mean.” (Ilisa Cohen, “Bilingual Babes: Teach Your Child A Second Language” parents.com)
Here at the Museum we work had to provide as many materials as possible in both Spanish and English, not only for user convenience but to integrate the Spanish language in our little visitors’ lives in conjunction with English.
Our Museum also partners with “1.2.3 Español” during our Toddler Time programming (Fridays at 10:00am). About once a month we partner with this great organization to introduce toddlers to learning Spanish in tandem with English by singing songs and telling stories in both languages. Be sure to join us for our next “1.2.3 Español” Toddler Time on September 16!